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Penticton News

New crime-fighting app going gangbusters in one Okanagan city

A new crime fighting app called Lightcatch is a hit with Penticton residents, who are downloading the app in a big way.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

PENTICTON - Penticton residents have taken to a new app that promises to help communities reduce crime and help authorities resolve illegal activity.

The app, Lightcatch, bills itself as a "revolutionary new application that protects communities and lets everyone with a smartphone help police stop crime 10 times faster and more efficiently than anything else on the market.”

Lightcatch is a reporting tool that allows the user to upload a video recording of a crime to the application, which notifies everyone nearby of what happened.

“The app is a legal, safe way to track criminal or suspicious activity in real-time,”  company founder Darren Boyer said.

Lightcatch was launched to a test market in Grande Prairie, Alta., 18 months ago. Penticton residents caught on to it in a big way after CBC aired a story on the app on July 2.

Since then, Penticton has surpassed Grande Prairie for the number of active users.

“Penticton has run faster and further with it than any other city in Western Canada,” he said.

"The more users there are in a given city for the app, the more effective it is."

Boyer said the creator of a couple of Penticton web pages recently posted notes about the way Lightcatch could help the community and the police, resulting in 600 members of the community downloading the app in less than three weeks.

Compare those numbers with neighbouring large cities such as Kamloops, Vernon and Kelowna, where the number of users in each city number less than 10.

He said the app has so far been largely responsible for returning a stolen bicycle to its owner in one case, in addition to being used to track a suspicious vehicle in the city as well as to search for a missing boy — the first time the app has been used for such a purpose.

“Over the course of four hours, the suspicious vehicle’s actions were monitored by members of the community. Fortunately, the suspects did not visibly break the law and the matter was dropped. But in the process many people felt better informed about how to keep their community safer,” Boyer said.

Boyer said the “suspicious activity” part of the app’s design was created by a member of the board of advisors, also a 30 year veteran of the Calgary police.

“It is meant to be legal, safe and respectable to everyone involved,” he wrote in an email.

Boyer said Lightcatch has learned its usefulness in resolving “actionable” crimes through its exposure to the Penticton community.

“These are situations where someone is in trouble, or a suspect is on the move. The app isn’t as useful for someone doing illegal acts to themselves in a public place, such as drug use, littering or indecent acts,” he said.

The application is currently only supported in Western Canada, with crime reporting features restricted to use only in Grande Prairie, but it may expand as demand grows.

Penticton RCMP detachment superintendent Ted De Jager said the app could prove useful, but the local RCMP are not yet connected to it.

"This is not currently in our inventory and I don't see the police side opening up any time soon. We are moving towards online reporting but Lightcatch is more real-time. I can see the benefits of the system, especially as compared to Facebook sites that often include more negativity than actual problem-solving. This app, however, seems to be focussed on actual information which could be very useful. I would remind the users that we are not connected to it, so if they do see something, they still need to call us," he said.

To find out more about Lightcatch and to download the app, visit this website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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